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Space Australia

Mystery Intergalactic Radio Bursts Detected 259

astroengine writes "Astronomers were on a celestial fishing expedition for pulsing neutron stars and other radio bursts when they found something unexpected in archived sky sweeps conducted by the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The powerful signal, which lasted for just milliseconds, could have been a fluke, but then the team found three more equally energetic transient flashes all far removed from the galactic plane and coming from different points in the sky. Astronomers are at a loss to explain what these flashes are — they could be a common astrophysical phenomenon that has only just been detected as our radio antennae have become sensitive enough, or they could be very rare and totally new phenomenon that, so far, defies explanation."
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Mystery Intergalactic Radio Bursts Detected

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  • Four bursts? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 04, 2013 @04:32PM (#44190225)

    Quick! Triangulate where in space time that these four events wavefronts will arrive simultaneously..

    And point all your telescopes there.

  • Re:First post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @04:56PM (#44190367)

    "Two possibilities exist -- either we are alone in the universe or we are not. I am unsure which is more terrifying."

  • Re:War! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <> on Thursday July 04, 2013 @05:03PM (#44190421) Homepage Journal

    Humans make a great slave labor force. Well, the ones that aren't served. []

    Where else in this part of the galaxy can you pick up 7.1 billion slaves, who will willingly work for slips of paper representing the idea of an exchange for goods and services? That, and they reproduce so readily, culling 50% of the population, their numbers will return in just a couple decades.

    There's so many of them, you could have them build monuments to your memory. You can have them stack stones []. You could even have them do it in the desert, and they'll not only do it, but they'll admire them as one of their greatest feats. []

    Is the trip too long? You could pick up just a seed population of say 1000, and end up with millions of obedient subjects when you deliver them. Nothing is better than a cargo that grows during shipment.

    The trick to their obedience is to tell them that they have free will, but make them worship and obey you under threat of perpetual torment. Most of those fools will believe anything. Just watch out for the atheists. They'll see right through most of those scams, and try to take over your ship. Make up something about an occupying evil, and the brainwashed masses will turn against them.

  • Re:War! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @07:54PM (#44191443)

    There are generally two reasons anything would want to attack Earth: 1) we're a threat. 2) we have resources not more easily obtained elsewhere

    For the first point, we are a threat to nothing and noone. Our weapons are simple and not very powerful. They are also very short-ranged and we are tremendously preoccupied with killing each other. We're not externally dangerous and unlikely to become so any time soon. We have no ability to wage war in space, much less across any sort of stellar distances. We possess exactly zero capability to use wormholes, warps, time travel, or other exotic ways to move the human initiative anywhere else.

    For the second point, essentially all the elements and minerals found on Earth can also be found elsewhere, where there might not be so many humans in the way. What weapons we do have would make an invasion troublesome and needlessly complicated. Suppose aliens need water? No need to come all the way to Earth to invade when you can harvest a few Oort comets and you're done. Earth would never even notice and couldn't object even if it wanted to. But in practice, any advanced space-faring species would have probably figured out how to manufacture resources when needed, so they may have even less need to harvest anything.

    A lot of scifi is bogged down with the concept of aliens needing something from Earth, but this concept is mostly not plausible. Water is everywhere. Minerals are everywhere. No, they don't even need to eat us. If you can cross space by whatever method, you have probably figured out food or evolved or engineered yourselves beyond the need to eat constantly like humans do.

    Really, the only reasons to bother with Earth would be to obtain samples, to observe what's happening, or to manipulate the planet or it's contents (people, animals, resources) in some manner. The classic concepts of an invasion force and human extermination don't fit with either of those plans.

  • Re:War! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @08:08PM (#44191501)

    Humans make a great slave labor force.

    No they don't. They are dirty, fractious, rebellious, and a zillion other flaws. Robots are far more useful and you don't have to travel light years to get them.

  • Re:First post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anubi ( 640541 ) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @09:14PM (#44191805) Journal
    I have often pondered this as well... if there are another civilization out there. Advanced enough to build interstellar transport. Would they by their advanced technology be benevolent?

    Or would they be desperately looking for any habitable planet that had the capacity to support life?

    Would they consider us as we would consider finding a large land mass on earth, inhabited by roaches and rodents?

    From what I can tell, our Earth is a veritable jewel in the vastness of space. Our water is abundant, yet we have land, a stable orbit, a stable Sun. And a rich assortment of mineral elements. Its something any entity would greatly treasure. For now, its ours because "they" do not know it exists. If "they" knew about it, would they claim it was theirs?

    I feel if we are not alone, just the sheer laws of time and physics is all that separates us from other forces which could take everything we know away. I have a hard time thinking that if we are not alone in this universe, we are the most advanced. We would be in a poor position to wage any sort of war against those who have developed interstellar travel, as their ability to direct energy obviously is greater than ours, and directed energy is what wins wars.

    So far, I have seen little to suggest the existence of another species out there, but lack of evidence is not evidence they do not exist. From a cockroach's point of view, I probably do not exist either. Its only been within my generation that electromagnetism has been understood to a point we can use it as a communications medium. I have no idea what other technologies are out there, as of yet undiscovered, and no knowledge whatsoever of their existence.
  • Re:First post (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ghaoth ( 1196241 ) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @09:28PM (#44191857)
    We already have a plan for any aliens that come to to planet Earth....Battleship..and Rihanna will save us. Whilst I am happy to search for alien life passively (observation), I am not so sure about doing it actively (big transmitters). Actively searching is like tracer bullets....they work both ways. ALL the life we have known on this planet (human, animal and plant) is powered by a need to survive and that usually means dominating other life. Would alien life be any different?
  • Re:War! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @09:41PM (#44191885) Homepage

    Or Earth may simply be a refueling point between points of interest. I imagine that aliens of some advanced races will have discovered an asymmetric process for creating anti-matter, or something like that; at which point, places like this solar system might just be the equivalent of a gas station. Whether they decide to fuel up from a gas giant, such as Neptune, or from a planet like Earth, may not be much of a decision, especially if they aren't looking for life, have no experience with lifeforms of this design, or have detected lifeforms and simply wish to avoid contact.

    Or Earth may be a target of some consequence. Think about it: what if humanity does get off this rock, and pisses off the wrong people? They may decide, rather than fighting a war (with weapons, and so on, that humans excel at), to visit the Earth's immediate past, and introduce a virus that will render them incapable of posing a problem in the future; or they may just drop a black hole on the planet itself. Or mankind may find itself to be the enemy: some group of exo-haters decide to travel back in time to 'make sure those aliens never have a chance to set foot on this planet'; they sprinkle the right information, to the right groups, to ensure that first contact results in a very bad impression; possibly taking up positions in the military / other places where they can use their influence, quietly, to achieve their ends. Perhaps those aliens are being scapegoated for bad policy decisions, or perhaps they are simply a victim of 'they took our jobs!' Or even some, I don't know, environmentalists, who have seen the future, and think it should be greener.

    Heck, there may even be the equivalent of alien socialites...people who just like stopping by, having a little fun, then moving on.

    There are many, many reasons that Earth may or may not be on someone's roadmap, by intent or by accident. But I think we all know that if one of them shows up here, chances are the military will see them as a threat, and either try to pump them for information ("Tell us how to build a warp drive!"), or even for propaganda (if politicians get involved). Do you disagree? Does anyone disagree? Does anyone, at all, think that for a not small number of nations, first contact might be a little 'rough' for humanity? And there in lies the sadness -> denied contact for lack of maturation, because of some fear that others have come to enslave, or do harm, or what have you; denied contact, because humanity's own fear prevents it from moving forward.

    Now, I could be wrong. Perhaps we will make a mistake, invite the wrong people down. But I'd rather make that mistake, that be ruled eternally by fear.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley